KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 (Bernama): Myanmar junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing has promised to hold new elections in August 2023 - after creating the right atmosphere for free and fair elections involving multiple parties in his country.
However, the military leader's promise is doubted by the people of Myanmar, as well as the United States - who has been urging the ruling military to hold elections as soon as possible if it is truly sincere with its promise.
While many observers believe that elections are not the solution to the crisis in Myanmar since the Junta overthrew the democratic government elected by the people on Feb 1, 2021, geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan opined it still need to be held to resolve the crisis in the country.
The Senior Fellow of the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) sees the new elections as a starting point for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.
"The most important thing is for the election to be held first even if the Junta wants to control, (and) even if it will be seen as biased. For me, the solution will start when there is an election.
"The military junta will definitely not hand over power to other parties, especially the NUG (National Unity Government), so the best way is elections. However, so far, I do not see the Junta holding elections anytime soon," he told Bernama.
On the call for Asean to step up the pressure on Myanmar, Azmi said the bloc had done so several times during its chairmanship by Brunei, but did not have the expected outcome towards the implementation of the Five Point Consensus (5PC).
Among them was the action of not inviting Junta representatives to several key Asean meetings, including the 38th and 39th Asean Summits as well as the Related Summits in October last year which - for the first time - saw no delegation from Myanmar.
"So will there be more pressure? I guess the answer is ‘no’, for now. Asean moves according to consensus, which means 10 (member) countries have to agree; so if there are member countries that are 'leaning there (towards the Junta)', it will be hard to take tougher action," he said.
However, Azmi said Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah's proposal that various means be combined towards resolving the crisis in Myanmar, including consulting with Dialogue Partners of Asean that the Junta would listen to, could have the expected effect.
However, it also depends on the willingness of the parties to negotiate with the Junta.
"They (Junta) just want to listen to countries that are close to them or support them. If you ask me which superpower can force the Junta, China is the closest,” he said, adding that he foesee that China won’t be intervening in the crisis in Myanmar.
Since the military coup in Feb 2021 in Myanmar, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, more than 14,000 detained while more than a million are homeless or fleeing. The crisis also plunged Myanmar into an economic and humanitarian crisis that threatened the lives and well-being of millions of people. - Bernama